This is the full cask strength version of Laphroaig’s flagship 10-year. At 57.8% ABV and not chill-filtered, this is essentially the standard 10-year minus water, and without the chill-filtration. That means there’s nothing between you and the raw fury of Laphroaig peat. Beware!
Note: This is a sample I saved from a friend’s bottle, so I don’t know which batch it was. Sorry!
Nose: Unmistakable Laphroaig peat. Seaweed and salt seaspray, with dense, meaty woodsmoke, like a driftwood bonfire on the beach. At 57.8% ABV, it will crawl right up your nose if you get too close. Meat notes dance around the edge – like the charbroiled crust of a well-salted steak. Powerful and lean.
Palate: At full proof, this stuff will take a layer of skin off of your tongue, and pour saltwater in the wound. Once your tongue gets good and numb from the punishment, you can taste, finally, the malty sweetness hidden beneath that fiery inferno of peat smoke.
Finish: Super long. Meaty again, with crusty barbecued meat (minus the bbq sauce), smoldering campfire embers, and crispy dried seaweed (nori). Fades (amazingly) without bitterness. A welcome respite from the torrent of flame.
With Water: A healthy splash of water is almost required, as the malt is barely drinkable neat. Try to aim for a robust 50% ABV. At this point, the nose is more correctly balanced between woodsmoke, salt, and sweet cereals. Vanilla saltwater taffy emerges, and the finish acquires something minty. At even further dilution, look for some very faint fruit notes – strawberry or raspberry, and a more mossy, subdued peat.
Overall: I only have a sample here, but if I had a full bottle I might view it as an Everest in my cabinet. I would rarely be in the mood to hike its treacherous peaks, but once in awhile the manly urge to conquer might rise in my chest and I might crack open the bottle to brave the frostbite and possible loss of life or limb that waits inside. Seriously though, this is a challenging whisky that should only be attempted once a healthy respect for both heavily peated Islay (try Laphroaig 10 first) AND cask strength single malt (try Aberlour abunadh first as well). Even when you’re ready for it, don’t be a hero. Put in some water.